Therapist Orna Guralnik, who counsels couples on Showtime's series "Couples Therapy," says that talking politics in relationships is beneficial.
In an essay for the New York Times, Guralnik said her clients' uneasy political discussions made their bonds stronger.
Movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo can help people move away from guilt and into personal responsibility, Guralnik wrote.
Talking politics with your partner could do wonders for your relationship, according to revered couples therapist Orna Guralnik.
Guralnik is the star of Showtime's three-season show "Couples Therapy," which lets viewers watch as she counsels couples through their lack of intimacy and trust. She has also become a familiar face on TikTok, where clips of these tense sessions often go viral.
Guralnik has been a family psychologist for three decades. In a new essay for the New York Times, she writes that she has "witnessed a tremendous change" in relationships over that time, particularly in the last eight years.
She believes that shift was propelled by political movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, which suddenly forced everyone to do "deep psychological work" and get real about their views on ethics, morality, and responsibility.
Guralnik said she has seen how these conversations — while uncomfortable — have helped people to understand and become closer to partners who, deep down, hold different views.
"As a collective, we appear to be coming around to the idea that bigger social forces run through us, animating us and pitting us against one another, whatever our conscious intentions. To invert a truism, the political is personal," Guralnik wrote.
Working through trauma with a Black woman and her police officer husband in the wake of George Floyd's murder
Guralnik gave the example of a married couple who often had dead-end conversation about how race impacted their lives and COVID safety protocols, until George Floyd was murdered and protests began across the country.
Michelle, an African American social worker, felt "hopeless" when she wanted to talk about the trauma Black people face with her husband James, who was a police officer at the time and from a conservative family.
James would often respond to Michelle that he "didn't see color," making her feel unseen and unimportant. But when they met with Guralnik, and discussed their worst fears in relation to George Floyd, James began to see his internal biases, came to terms with his fear over who he could actually trust, and started to have more vulnerable conversations with Michelle.
Their resolution shows how conversations on polarizing topics can be addressed without shattering a relationship, according to Guralnik.
How to have hard conversations that will make your relationship stronger
According to Guralnik, being brave enough to challenge your own beliefs in the name of love can take a relationship to the next level.
"Love is ultimately measured by people's capacity to see and care about the other person as they are; succeeding in this effort is how people in relationships grow," Guralnik wrote.
Guralnik said that, in her experience, a successful relationship involves partners who are interested in understanding their partner's "otherness." Those are the couples who can successfully evolve together, even through great hardship and difference.
She said that these conversations can initially cause defensive reactions. But stay with it: Work through the issue over a few weeks, together or with a therapist, and these frustrating talks can evolve into ones of more understanding and closeness.
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